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The Devil Inside Is Somewhat Creepy, But Ending Fails Big Time

The Devil Inside
Directed by William Brent Bell
Written by Bell and Matthew Peterman
Paramount, 2012

The Devil Inside is the latest found footage horror film, a technique I prefer over the slick, high-production value horror that usually comes out.  However, as horror is a difficult genre to pull off, even the “you are there” aspect of video can be fumbled at times.  Movies like Quarantine, The Fourth Kind, and Apollo 18 all gave it a shot, and came up short for the most part.

The Devil Inside already shares DNA with 2010’s The Last Exorcism, which used the found footage technique effectively.  It also shares some aspects of last year’s slick exorcism film The Rite, in providing a Vatican City setting complete with classes on the subject and a fair amount of skepticism.  The question I had going into this was, “Can this movie separate itself from the many exorcism films we’ve seen in the past few years, and if it doesn’t, can it still be scary?”

We follow Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) as she shoots a documentary with her cameraman Michael (Ionut Grama).  Back in 1989, Isabella’s mother Maria (Suzan Crowley, clearly stealing this movie) murdered three people during an exorcism at her house and was whisked away to a Vatican mental hospital.  Isabella wants to find out why she was taken all the way there, and to find out if she truly has mental problems or is possessed by the devil.  The movie isn’t called The Devil Inside for nothing.  Maria alternates between rather sweet to pretty evil in a back and forth manner.

Isabella and two priests, David (Evan Helmuth) and Ben (Simon Quarterman), working without the Vatican’s knowledge, have been conducting exorcisms that could get them kicked out of the Church.  Isabella, being granted access probably no one would ever get until Rapture, is allowed to follow them as they perform an exorcism on a contorting beast of a woman who knows things that she shouldn’t.  David and Ben decide to test out Isabella’s mother, and from there I’ll stop talking about the plot of the movie.

The conclusion of the movie has some freaky things, but the very end of the movie is going to piss you off.  I’m all for using found footage in a realistic way, but the ending is pretty abrupt.  There is a character change that occurs that happens in front of your eyes and it comes out so nonchalantly, the effect is eerie, but from there the movie tends to derail.  It doesn’t earn this ending at all and feels cheap.  When an audience has given you some leeway at the beginning, with the slow build, a rewarding character change and ending is due.

I feel like under the circumstances, they really could have played around with the characters at the end and given us a unique perspective on the exorcism genre.  But as happens with a lot of these movies, there isn’t really any thought about the possibilities that are laid out and hey, they throw the kitchen sink at you there towards the end while missing the opportunity to make something really good.

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